Independent shop owner tops up furloughed employees’ wages thanks to success of free local delivery service
Switching to online and offering free local deliveries proved a success after the owner of an independent shop in Soham had to close its doors during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Jacky Hibbert, who owns Jak Hibs – which opened on July 4 in 2011 and sells “a mixture of everything, from stationery to toys and hardware, Christmas, Easter and Halloween bits” - adapted to the new normal by changing her offering.
“I offered free delivery to people in Soham, Isleham, Wicken, Fordham and Barway. Everyone was very supportive because they wanted bits as well.
“I now know where every road in Soham is; even down the Fen. It was good”.
Changing her way of selling meant that Covid-19 didn’t have too much of an impact on her business.
Jacky said that, for her furloughed employees, she was able to top up their wages.
“Because I did so well with the deliveries, I gave my employees the extra 20 per cent on top – so they still got their normal wage.”
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The government’s business grant was also a big help - “to pay the rent”, Jacky added.
She is continuing to offer the free delivery service once a week on a Wednesday “for people who don’t want to come out”,
Since lockdown, she says footfall is getting back to normal and that she has put a number of safety measures in place to help reduce the potential spread of the virus.
“People still come in here, and they use the hand gel. I’ve got a card machine now and I clean all the cash – any coins and notes people give me.”
As for the future, Jacky is feeling optimistic: “Always look on the bright side, I say. Stay positive and be positive is the best way.”
“Soham is a nice community. Everyone thanked me for doing free delivery, but actually they helped me. Everyone helped each other.”